Sharing meals and the stories behind them

Celebrating UN International Migrants Day, We Together.

Meet Nige. Nige Sithirasegaram arrived in Australia ten years ago and spent six years in detention where he taught himself to cook the recipes from his homeland Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. Nige’s dishes draw heavily on memories from a childhood spent in a sleepy fishing village, his Tamil heritage and memories of loved ones.

These memories provide daily inspiration for Nige, watch this video to hear him tell the story of one object that reminds him of his wife and provides comfort in times of sadness.

Nige has been cooking for the local Melbourne community for many years through various ventures like Tamil Feasts; and he is currently working with Free to Feed on season 2 of their virtual cooking class All Together Now. This is the first time his personal recipes have been documented and honoured in such a way.

About UN International Migrants Day and Global Migration Museum Network

This years theme for UN International Migrants day, We Together, signifies the shared experiences of people, like Nige and each of the 272 million migrants living new lives and building new communities in every corner of the globe today. Alongside the Global Migration Museums Network, the Immigration Museum acknowledges the impact and benefits of migration on how we live our lives including how we learn, create, work, play and of course eat. Food culture has seen the most significant impact by migration than most other shared experiences. This power of sharing and valuing such important historical cultural traditions such as the ritual of preparing and enjoying food allows for a deeper understanding of the migrant experience.

In recognition of this significant day, here are some more precious keepsakes from our collection brought by migrants to Australia, which have held deep, often poignant meanings and memories.

Dress - Child's, World War II Victory in Europe (VE) Day, England, 1945, Photograph - Tran Family, Vietnam, pre 1978
Blanket - Baby, Southern Sudan, 1983, Notebook - Anna Apinis, Latvian Weaving Patterns, 1930s-1940s

To learn more about Nige, Sri Lankan food and to share a meal, follow the simple recipe below or head over to Free to Feed to explore more about All Together Now.

Nige's Potato Masala 

Serves 4


800gms Potato (any work well but Nige uses desiree potatoes )
1 teaspoon Ground Turmeric
2 teaspoons Salt
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
60ml Coconut Oil
1 teaspoon Black Mustard Seeds
1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
5 Cardamom Pods
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 teaspoon Chilli Flakes
1 Brown Onion
2 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 Tomatoes
1 Lemon
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
½ Bunch Coriander


Mixing bowl
Medium pot & lid
Chopping board
Vegetable peeler
Wooden spoon


Step 1: Peel the potatoes and cut into 2.5 cm dice - place into a bowl. Peel and finely dice onion and garlic. Wash & cut the tomatoes into a rough dice. Measure out spices, place the spices into a small separate dishes. Measure out tomato paste. Juice ½ lemon. Wash & roughly chop coriander.

Step 2: Add ground turmeric, salt & a tablespoon vegetable oil to the chopped potatoes. Mix to combine.

Step 3: On a medium heat, place a medium sized pot on the stove and add coconut oil. When heated add the mustard seeds, stir for about 30 seconds before adding the fennel & cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, chilli flakes. Fry until mustard seeds start to pop (1–2 minutes). Add onion & garlic, cook for 2–3 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Step 4: Add tomato paste, cook for a further 2–3 minutes, then add chopped tomato.

Step 5: Add potatoes and enough water to just cover. stir to combine. Bring to the boil, Cover & reduce heat to low. Cook until the potato is tender.(about 20 mins)

Step 6: Season with lemon juice & soy sauce. Fold through chopped coriander before serving.

Accompany with steamed rice.

About Free to Feed

Free to Feed is a not-for-profit social enterprise in awe of the potential and spirit of refugees, people seeking asylum and new migrants – and appreciative of what they want to offer as new community members – we aim to champion their unique skills and individual stories.

Free to Feed was founded in late 2015 with the express purpose of assisting people seeking asylum to a. find meaningful employment opportunities using their existing skills and experiences and b. facilitate community interconnectivity and break the stifling sense of social isolation often faced by these new arrivals. Free to Feed’s advocacy is delivered through a number of food-oriented initiatives.

Film credits

Director: Timothy Melville

Cinematographer: Nathan Kaso

Sound Recordist: David Ross

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